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The Shortest History of China

From the Ancient Dynasties to a Modern Superpower--A Retelling for Our Times

Linda Jaivin


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For anyone eager to discover the country behind today's headlines, highly respected China expert Linda Jaivin distills the complete history of China into a short, smart, entertaining account that charts the Middle Kingdom's tumultuous journey--from ancient dynastic rule to modern superpower status under Xi Jinping.

Once known as the Middle Kingdom, China is a much-storied land, full of heroes and villains, prosperous ages and violent rebellions, cultural vibrancy and censorious impulses. For centuries, China led the world in science, technology, astronomy, and math. The Chinese invented porcelain, silk, gunpowder, and the magnetic compass, among other innovations. In the twentieth century, China saw the rise of communism under Chairman Mao and the bloody Cultural Revolution.

China today is just as multifaceted: Depending on what you read, it is an economic powerhouse; a beacon of rapid urbanization and industrialization; a top travel destination filled with cultural and natural beauty; a secretive political state rife with propaganda; one of the globe's worst environmental polluters; an aggressive geopolitical player seeking world domination.

As we enter "the Asian Century," China--now considered a modern superpower--increasingly demands our attention. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote in The New York Times, "China is a complex and contradictory place, not a caricature" that requires our fuller understanding. In The Shortest History of China, Linda Jaivin, an expert in Chinese politics, language, and culture, distills a vast history into a compact, riveting account that tells us what we really need to know about the Middle Kingdom--from its philosophical origins to its political systems--and its current position on the world stage.

Experiment, 9781615198207, 288pp.

Publication Date: September 28, 2021